New GOP Leaders Vow Honest Opposition

Posted November 19, 2008 at 3:06pm

The reshuffled House GOP leadership team emerged Wednesday singing from the unity songbook, but the new leaders offered few specifics on how they would win back the trust of voters.

“We know we have a lot of work to do,” said a freshly tapped Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.). “We are going to serve as the honest opposition.”

“This is a time of renewal an regrounding for Republicans on Capitol Hill,” GOP Conference Chairman-elect Mike Pence (Ind.) said. Pence promised to bring “a cheerful opposition” and offer substantive alternatives to the Democratic agenda, and he said he did not intend to rein in his conservative views just because he was in leadership.

“I am a Christian, a conservative and a Republican in that order,” he said.

Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) defeated his only challenger, Rep. Dan Lungren (Calif.), although Republicans did not release the vote count. Lungren has been seen largely as a token candidate trying to keep Boehner from getting a free pass after November’s crushing elections.

The closed-door meeting produced few surprises.

Pence noted after the meeting that Republicans will now for the first time have earmark foes in the top three positions of leadership.

Pence is taking over the No. 3 job from Rep. Adam Putnam (Fla.), who bowed out as Conference Chairman on election night.

Also Wednesday, House Republicans tapped Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) to serve as Conference Vice Chairwoman and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.) as Policy Committee Chairman. McCotter beat back rival Rep. Michael Burgess (Texas) to keep the policy job. Rep. John Carter (Texas) returns as Conference Secretary.

Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas) claimed the gavel of the National Republican Congressional Committee for the 2010 cycle after current Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) unexpectedly withdrew from the race. Sessions had the heavy backing of Boehner heading into the leadership elections, and he promised a revitalized fundraising operation and other changes to reinvigorate the committee, adding that Members will not be satisfied until they have returned to the majority.

House Republicans sunk deeper into the minority on Nov. 4, losing more than 20 seats. With a few races still unresolved, Democrats control the chamber 257-165.

“I will build an aggressive, energized, and modernized NRCC by immediately working to strengthen fundraising, implement strategic candidate recruitment, update messaging and technology, and create organizational strength and long-term strategies to secure a Republican majority,” he said in a statement. “Rebuilding the Republican majority begins today.”